The Effects of Addiction on Children

addiction childrenAddiction is traumatic for children when it is introduced into their lives. Ideally, children would never be exposed to addiction, but this is far from the case. Children all over the world are raised by parents or guardians who struggle with addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, the internet or some other addictive substance or process. The relationships that children have with their addicted parents typically cause psychological damage to the child that, in some cases, never heals. This is a tragedy, but circulating information on the damage that addiction does to children is the only way to raise awareness about it.

Being exposed to addiction makes children feel insecure and afraid. Children have brains like sponges, and though they are innocent, they are very aware. They depend on their parent to have things under control and protect them from the world, and they are able to sense if their parent is unable to do so. Parents who are consumed by addiction are not devoting the time, energy or attention to their child that they should be. The child is aware that their parent is mentally absent and it robs the child of the security they should feel in their parent.

This tends to make the child withdrawn and mistrusting of others, particularly when they are very young because they do not know how to express their feelings to others. They know their parent is dysfunctional and they know that other children do not have this problem. They can sense how they are different and less fortunate but they do not know who they can open up to about it, or even if they should. Anti-social behavior is observed in many children of addicted parents.

As the child grows and matures, they are much more likely than other children to develop addictions and mental disorders of their own. The thought and behavior patterns that children form in their early years are ones they will carry with them for their entire lives. If the foundation of a person’s childhood includes parents who are addicted and therefore less available, the child is likely to develop mental problems of their own as a direct result.

Struggling With Addiction When Pregnant

pregnant addictedAddiction is a big problem for those who have no plans of parenting, but for soon-to-be parents, it is devastating. In a perfect world, impending parenthood would be motivation enough for anyone to recover from their addiction, but this is not the case. Many babies are born to parents who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, food, tobacco or any number of things, and are deeply affected by their parent’s choices. Expecting a baby is a very exciting time in a person’s life, but for someone who is afflicted with addiction or planning to co-parent with someone who is afflicted with addiction, the joy is strained.

Addiction is a type of disease that requires treatment, and letting it go unchecked while raising a child is highly irresponsible. When either parent is still immersed in addiction after the child is born, the child is being exposed to an unhealthy environment. Sadly, it is not uncommon. One in five children is raised by a parent who is addicted for some amount of time. This does not mean that the household will be completely dysfunctional. There are many addicts who raise very functional children, however, this area of the family’s life will always be problematic unless the issue is addressed.

A very tragic form of addiction in parents-to-be is a substance addicted mother who is abusing substances while pregnant. This almost unavoidably causes complications for the unborn baby, either in the form of birth defects, health problems or a dependence on the substance being used. This type of addiction in a parent-to-be is the most dangerous to an unborn fetus, but it is not the only one that poses a threat to the child.

In the case of a substance abusing mother-to-be, an intervention should be held immediately for the sake of the fetus’s health. Bringing a baby into an addicted household is a decision that a parent will regret for the rest of their lives. Children of addicted parents are far more likely to become addicted themselves because of the psychological exposure to addiction as a way of life. If you are addicted and expecting a baby, please do not hesitate to reach out to an addiction treatment professional to learn about the treatment options that are available to you. The best thing an addicted parent-to-be can do is to bring their addiction under control before the baby is born.

Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

pregnancy substance abuseSubstance abuse during pregnancy is a sad but common reality. Carrying a child is not reason enough for some women to stop drinking, smoking or mismanaging their diet. This tends to happen when the mother is a struggling addict or when the pregnancy was unwanted and therefore uncared for. In a perfect world, the health of every unborn child would be of great concern to its mother, but some women are not able to meet this expectation. The most abused substances by mothers-to-be are, not surprisingly, alcohol and marijuana.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant can have disasterous consequences on the unborn child’s health. These health risks have been aptly grouped under the heading Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It is a small percentage of the population that is affected by this disorder, an approximate 1-percent, but it still creates a grave outlook for those affected. Women who engage in alcohol consumption while pregnant are likely to give birth to a child who will exhibit problems learning, memorizing and socializing. Often, their facial features will have a different appearance as well.
Marijuana use during pregnancy can also be very detrimental to an unborn child’s health. Research in this area is not very advanced, but what research we do have would suggest that heavy marijuana use during pregnancy frequently results in developmental disabilities, learning problems and distorted facial features.
Tragically, a women’s use of alcohol and drugs can create a chemical dependency within the unborn fetus. When the baby is born, it may experience withdrawal symptoms for the substance. Later in life, the individual will be far more likely to have addiction problems of their own due to their exposure at an early age. These are problems that critically need to be addressed in North America, but progress in finding a solution is being made very slowly.

Helping Families with Addiction

family addiction helpNot all cases of addicted parents raising children have a tragic ending. Some addicted parents still provide a lot of love and security to their children on many levels. Some parents only struggle with addiction briefly during a certain phase of their child’s life. And some parents simply find the addiction treatment they need and improve their lives for the good of themselves and their family. Treatment and counseling is always recommended for a struggling addict, but when the addict is a parent, counseling is recommended for the whole family.

The reason that addiction counseling should be extended to the entire family unit is because children in particular need help processing their parent’s behavior. Children are highly perceptive and have surely noticed their parent’s addictive behavior, but cannot relate to it or process it. Child psychologists and family addiction counselers are well equipped for helping children understand what their family is going through. They are able to get children talking about it so that it does not remain misinterpreted in their minds, or remain an emotional burden on their hearts.

The spouses or partners of addicts also need counseling. As adults, we have a better understanding of what addiction is, but to a non-addict, addictive behavior can still be hard to understand and can be emotionally scarring. The non-addicted partner has spent time having their needs neglected while their partner is lost in their addiction, and may have been frequently abused or mistreated as well. Not everyone’s relationship can survive this kind of turmoil. It is not uncommon for marriages and relationships with addicts to end in divorce or separation. But many are also willing to go through counseling and lend their sympathy to their partner, knowing that they are afflicted with a disease and need compassion. For those families who are willing to undergo recovery together, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Residents of the United States and Canada who are parents struggling with addiction may not know where to turn for help, but resources are available to them. Parents or soon-to-be parents who are ready to confront their addiction problems can turn to an addiction treatment facility United States or an addiction rehab Canada for direction in their recovery.

Addicted Parents

parents who are addicts

Addiction is usually associated with maladaptive behavior and mental disorders. That is why it is not surprising that people who struggle with addiction are usually not able to give it up in order to be parents. An approximate 10-percent of people in North America identify themselves as “recovering from addiction,” while approximately 65-percent of people in North America claim that their lives have been personally affected by addiction. This would indicate that there are far more addicts than there are recovering addicts, many of whom are certainly parents.

Addiction in parenthood is a source of problems on many levels. Addiction is a source of contention between two people who are parenting together, whether it is one parent who is addicted or both. If only one parent is addicted, the other will almost certainly resent and fear their addicted partner. If both parents are addicted, the likelihood of them having a functional relationship is very low. For children of any age, this behavior is detrimental to be around, inspiring maladaptive, antisocial and fearful tendencies because the child does not feel secure in their home environment. In many cases, being raised by an addicted parent will spawn a case of addiction within the child once they mature.

If you or someone you know is trying to parent while addicted, it is recommended that you seek help right away. The addicted parent or parents need to recognize their behavior for what it is and reverse it before they do psychological or even physical damage to the child. Sadly, some addicted parents will be deemed unfit for parenting and will have their children taken from them; a heart-breaking scenario but it may save the children from further devastation. In other scenarios, one or both of the parents may qualify for addiction treatment, and rehabilitation and counseling can save the family unit.

Expecting a Baby

baby on the wayPreparing for a baby’s arrival is meant to be a very joyous time in an expecting parent’s life. Not only is your imagination full of ideas about how to raise the child and inspire their life’s path, but you get to enjoy preparing for the baby by creating space for them and filling it with gifts of love. It is true that not every pregnancy is filled with happiness. Some pregnancies are unintended, stressful or unwanted. But for the average adult, expecting a baby is a reason to celebrate.

Preparing for a baby’s arrival involves some major life changes. For the mother-to-be, the first thing that changes is her body and the way she cares for it. She should be mindful of what foods and substances are healthy to eat when carrying a baby, and which foods are not. She should follow expert advice on which activities should end until the baby is born, such as strenuous exercise and physical exertion. She should become familiar with the various stages of pregnancy to know what to expect. The last few months will be particularly challenging and uncomfortable, and she will need plenty of support and encouragement.

Another major life change for a mother-to-be and a father-to-be will be preparing the house for a baby. Making the living areas safer is often referred to as “baby-proofing” the house, which usually involves padding all the sharp corners, putting child-proof latches on the cabinets and cupboards and getting anything breakable or toxic well out of reach. There is also the task of preparing the baby’s room. This usually involves choosing colors and decorations, setting up a crib and changing table and adorning the room with toys and figurines that a baby would like. As the due date gets closer, events such as the baby shower will take place and the parents-to-be will be presented with almost every item they need to care for a baby, including clothes, diapers, toys and more.